Global Philanthropic Response to COVID-19 Approaches $3 Billion

March 31, 2020

On March 3, Candid identified almost $1 billion in pledges and donations in support of global relief efforts focused on mitigating the impacts of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). In the weeks since, the virus has infected 719,758 people worldwide and resulted in the deaths of more than 33,673. As the relatively localized outbreak in Wuhan, China, rapidly morphed into a global pandemic, the philanthropic community stepped up to meet the challenge, with pledges and donations in support of relief efforts almost tripling, to $2.6 billion, by March 23.

As was the case during the first two months of the crisis, overall giving for COVID-19 relief in March mirrored historical patterns of disaster giving in every way except total dollar amount (i.e., giving in response to COVID-19 has been much higher). What has changed over the last couple of weeks is funding by country, which has closely tracked migration of the disease.

Fig.1.1Together, the United States and China (including Hong Kong and Macao, China’s Special Administrative Regions) continue to account for 87 percent of pledges and 83 percent of total dollar amount, but the U.S. total has increased almost 700 percent since March 3 and now accounts for more than two-thirds of pledges and almost half the dollars pledged globally for COVID-19 relief. Italy, where the philanthropic response was almost nonexistent two weeks ago, now accounts for 11 percent of total dollar value.

The position of grantmakers and their relative contributions also have changed. Whereas early on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s $100 million commitment accounted for 55 percent of total U.S. pledges and contribution, it now represents just 9 percent of the more than $1.2 billion pledged by U.S.-based foundations. The largest single commitment now is the more than $175 million pledged by the Wells Fargo Foundation "to help address food, shelter, small business and housing stability, as well as to provide help to public health organizations." With its other announced commitment, Wells Fargo total announced contributions now total more than $181.2 million — or 15 percent of the U.S. total. Lastly, where there were only two U.S. grantmakers in our list of the top twenty funders globally at the end of February, there are now six in the top twelve.

Andrew_fg.1.2As total commitments and pledges have grown, so have relative contributions by funder type. Direct corporate giving still accounts for the lion’s share of contributions, but the percentage as dollar value of total contributions is down as commitments from corporate, family, and community foundations have increased, with the dollar value of contributions from corporate foundations increasing more than five-fold.

Fig.1.3Companies, both directly and through their foundations, represent 77 percent of the total U.S. philanthropic response to COVID-19. As Candid president Bradford Smith told the Chronicle of Philanthropy, after eleven years of a bull market many businesses have cash reserves. Broken down by industry, corporate giving also is following traditional patterns, with companies in the financial services sector — historically, the most generous sector in terms of its response to disasters — leading the way. With announced commitments totaling $421 million, banks, investment firms, and other kinds of lenders have contributed far and away the most to COVID-19 relief efforts, followed by the big Internet platforms (Amazon, Facebook, Google, Netflix) at $343 million. Together, the two sectors account for 80 percent of the total dollar value of U.S. contributions. (The graph below captures 90 percent of U.S. corporate contributions.)

Fig.1.4Some random observations:

  • Approximately 65 percent of the dollar value of pledges announced in January and February came in the two weeks after January 23. In February, pledges for COVID-19 relief actually declined by more than 12 percent, as countries in various stages of delay and denial looked on as the virus began its relentless spread beyond China's borders. In the first three weeks of March, by contrast, more than $1.5 billion was pledged, accounting for 61 percent of the total since January 23.
  • Unknown and multiple recipients continue to account for most of the pledges and total dollar value, followed by various Chinese Red Cross organizations. For named recipients, we're seeing a relatively small but growing number of grants to organizations such as Feeding America, Direct Relief, and the CDC Foundation.
  • The largest gift from an individual was made by Silvio Berlusconi, the billionaire and former Italian prime minister, who donated 10 million euros ($10.7 million) for a new hospital being built on the former fairgrounds in Milan. Here in the U.S., President Trump donated his Q419 salary of $100,000 to the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • In addition to the efforts of organized philanthropy, individuals and communities are coming together to help their families, friends, and neighbors. GoFundMe tweeted that more than 22,000 COVID-19 fundraisers have been initiated in the past few weeks by the global GoFundMe community, and that, collectively, they've raised more than $40 million.

In my first post, I speculated about whether private philanthropy would eventually step aside — as it did during the 2014 Ebola epidemic — as large-scale action and resources were brought to bear on the crisis by national governments. Back then (a month ago), I thought it would depend on how governments performed with respect to their fundamental obligations to guarantee public health and safety.

Now that several governments have concluded that maintaining public health and safety requires the shuttering of businesses and a prohibition of most kinds of social interaction, we are facing much more than a public health emergency. Indeed, the rapidly cascading economic downturn in the U.S. (and many other countries) promises to affect everybody over the next few months.

As governments scramble to respond, private philanthropy, especially community foundations, are creating COVID-19 response funds to help the most vulnerable members of their communities weather the storm. Philanthropy cannot and will not replace government action, but it is well positioned to move quickly and compassionately to offer a helping hand to those in need.

Headshot_andrew_grabois_picAndrew Grabois is corporate philanthropy manager at Candid. A version of this post originally appeared on the Candid blog. For more information on philanthropy's response to the pandemic, visit Candid's Funding for Coronavirus (COVID-19) popup page.

Neighborhoods with 'Medical Deserts' Have Emergency Needs During COVID Pandemic

March 27, 2020

5c800d7f262898478f1016f7A zip code has become a life or death matter. Families that live more than an hour from a hospital face a death sentence based on their address. A long ambulance ride increases the risk of death. Patients with respiratory emergencies, like the ones caused by coronavirus, are particularly vulnerable.

According to an annual survey by the American Hospital Association, more than a thousand hospitals in the United States have closed since 1975. As a result, residents in communities from coast to coast must drive more than sixty minutes to reach an acute care hospital. These places are called "medical deserts," and you can find them in every state.

If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is that we desperately need new investment in our healthcare safety net and infrastructure. Indeed, a recent study by the COVID-19 Response Team at Imperial College London suggests that the "capacity limits of the UK and U.S. health system[s] [could be] exceeded many times over" during this crisis and warns that "even if all patients are able to be treated, we predict there would still be in the order of 250,000 deaths in Great Britain and 1.1 million to 1.2 million deaths in the U.S."

As an emergency medicine physician and chair of the health committee of Black Women for Positive Change, I call on Congress and the administration to immediately implement the following recommendations in order to save lives, before it's too late.

1. Congress should pass legislation to create free-standing FSEDs. FSEDs are 24-hour, seven-day-a-week emergency departments established in communities that lack emergency healthcare services and facilities. Standalone emergency departments are physically separate from hospitals; can be independently owned, hospital owned or, government owned; are staffed by emergency medicine physicians; and are available for walk-in patients and patients arriving by ambulance. These facilities treat and discharge patients while also transporting admitted cases to full-service hospitals by ambulance or helicopter. Even better, FSEDs can be built quickly, maintained at a fraction of the cost of large hospitals, and are just as effective at providing critical, time-sensitive medical care as hospital emergency departments. In other words, FSEDS can be a vital safety net for people who live in medical deserts.

2. Convert unused spaces into temporary COVID hospitals. As we are learning, healthcare facilities and providers can become vectors for the transmission of COVID-19. For that reason, it's important to not only increase the number of critical beds with ventilator capability but also to physically separate COVID and non-COVID patients. To do that, we need to  convert unused spaces into dedicated temporary COVID hospitals — and do it immediately. If we don't, patients that are ill from non-COVID medical diseases are more likely to be infected by healthcare providers and other patients, thereby increasing overall morbidity and mortality rates. At the moment, every state in the U.S. has unused conference centers, coliseums, concert halls, and other large venues that can be converted into temporary COVID-only hospitals. Let's get to it. Physically separating patients is a critical step in reducing mortality and morbidity rates.

3. Expand medical flight and ground transportation capacity. To strengthen our emergency and intensive care capacity, we need to move quickly to put more ambulances and medical flight helicopters into service.  The physical fact of people living in medical deserts that lack the healthcare resources should not be a factor in whether they receive care for COVID-19. Because the coronavirus is straining transportation systems everywhere, we also need to develop Uber-like emergency services that help facilitate transportation to hospitals and emergency medical facilities.

"Dr. Crowder's recommendations to address [the problem of] medical deserts in underserved communities is timely and urgent," says Dr. Stephanie Myers, former assistant secretary for public affairs in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "Her vision should be included in the new policies being considered by federal, state, and local governments. We must act fast to reduce the death rates associated with coronavirus. We are only at the beginning of this pandemic, but we have an opportunity, if we act quickly, to put in place the medical capacity Americans will need."

Let us hope that Congress, governors, and the administration are listening.

Valda Crowder, MD, MBA, is a board-certified emergency medicine physician and chair of the health committee at Black Women for Positive Change.

Creating Symbiosis Between Marketing and Advocacy

March 26, 2020

Stickers-yin-yang-sphereHow many times have you had to make a strategic decision designed to generate (or replace) critical support for your organization or cause? Maybe you lost the support of a key funder, or something happened in your issue area that required a decisive response.

Let's face it: even when things are calm, your organization is competing with dozens of other organizations and causes for public mindshare. Which is why I'm sure you've tried all sorts of traditional and digital methods designed to amplify your organization's message so that it stands out from all the "noise." 

Of course, generating any kind of action in our over-saturated media environment requires the efforts of two of your most critical teams: marketing and advocacy. It’s the job of marketing to acquire and recruit people to your cause, while advocacy works at the other end of the spectrum to activate those who are most likely to support — or are already involved at high levels with — your cause.

How do organizations achieve that happy state?

Successful cause leaders have discovered that the secret is to create a mutually beneficial relationship between your marketing and advocacy teams.

Finding the Sweet Spot

Often, when I sit down with cause leaders and ask about an upcoming event or campaign, I'm told (in so many words) that the organization is trying to expend as little of its limited resources as possible — and doing so in a siloed way. Sometimes, the marketing team will say, "Oh, it’s the advocacy team’s job to create passionate supporters and fight the good fight on the policy front," while the advocacy team members will say, "It's not our job to fill the room or make sure our message is getting to the right people. That’s marketing's job."

As anyone responsible for building a movement or a brand tied to a cause or issue knows, however, the sweet spot for any organization — the place where all its resources are used so as to create a whole greater than the sum of its parts — requires everyone, on every team, to work together.

Where am I going with this?

The challenge for a mission-driven organization — getting as many supporters as possible to amplify your cause or issue in the most effective and efficient way possible — underscores the need for two things:

  • advocacy teams must establish clear, measurable milestones and metrics that define "success" for any campaign or initiative; and
  • marketing teams must be given the resources and tools — including (and not least) digital tools — needed to achieve those milestones and goals.

Note: I did not number the above bullet points "1" and "2". Why, because it's not always obvious which comes first. Yes, you need supporters to help you achieve your milestones, and you need milestones that supporters can work toward, but is one more important than the other? In my opinion, the absence of clear, aspirational goals and milestones for both supporters and your marketing team invariably serves to dampen enthusiasm and depress growth. It's an approach, in my experience, that  leads to modest turnouts and response rates unlikely to keep you ahead of normal attrition rates.

Let’s look at the challenge in more detail.

Success for Marketing

I've seen many marketing campaigns that exceeded expectation in terms of bringing in new supporters. The most successful ones connected the public to a specific and achievable milestone. Working in conjunction with the advocacy and fundraising teams, marketing was given clear goals and the resources it needed to rally and connect target audiences to the cause. Those teams then applied their creative talents to designing campaigns that spoke compellingly to the importance of the issue and how individuals could become involved.

In many cases, resources also were made available for marketing teams to target supporters and potential supporters through paid media ads. More customized efforts often involved influencers in enlisting their followers to help the organization achieve its goals. To be clear, I'm not talking about a "we're going to eliminate [issue] in America by 2030” appeal; instead, the language used was specific to what supporters needed to feel and see as a clear victory in the moment — this month or this year.

Success for Advocacy

In my experience, advocacy teams tend to focus on a common benchmark of success: large numbers of supporters who can be leveraged to pressure/persuade stakeholders (legislators, policy makers, donors) to take action. Which means advocacy teams need their marketing colleagues to bring in as many supporters and potential supporters as they can.

Note, too, that while advocacy teams tend to value the most engaged supporters, successful organizations and causes do not neglect supporters who can get their family and friends to act, even when they’re not especially passionate about the cause. As advocacy teams design these "friends-and-family" appeals, marketing can plug calls to action into the appropriate messaging and collateral. And as advocacy teams make progress toward their goals, marketing can share the gains with supporters as evidence of the cause's popularity — and added incentive for further engagement.

Symbiosis Is the Key

A symbiotic relationship between marketing and advocacy is essential for movement building. Yes, it’s difficult; aligning and deploying resources from different departments or budgets requires consensus and cooperation. Frankly, the ability to identify and define meaningful metrics and milestones — those small victories related to an issue or cause that an organization can "own" — is daunting, especially where fear of a misstep exists.

But when It comes together, it's a beautiful thing to behold. Let me give you an example.

412 Food Rescue

412 Food Rescue collects perfectly good food from retailers, restaurants, caterers, and others and redistributes it to the food insecure. For that part, the organization's outreach/advocacy team recruits nonprofit partners such as housing authorities, daycare centers, churches, and community centers.

Working together, the outreach/advocacy and marketing teams have created an organization that runs almost exclusively on volunteer labor and enthusiasm. Volunteers download an app that tells them where and when surplus food is available, enabling them to respond immediately as to their availability to rescue and deliver the food directly to families in need. It’s a rewarding high-touch experience for everyone involved that lets marketing put volunteers, donors, and beneficiaries at the forefront of the organization's messaging.

When making strategic decisions about how to attract more supporters to your cause, be sure to look at the challenge holistically and with the longer term in mind. And remember, when marketing and advocacy are inspired and enabled by leadership to work together, even small wins tend to morph into bigger ones.

Headshot_derrick_feldmann_2015Derrick Feldmann (@derrickfeldmann) is the author of Social Movements for Good: How Companies and Causes Create Viral Change, the founder of the Millennial Impact Project, and lead researcher at Cause and Social Influence.

Ladder Funding: A Collaborative Approach to Changing the World

March 23, 2020

Pollination_projectAccording to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are more than 1.5 million charitable organizations in the United States. Despite the many different forms they take, all of them have something in common: a desire to create meaningful change in the world. Yet despite this commonality, nonprofits have a tendency to operate in silos. Some years ago, that realization led me to a question: What might happen if like-minded funders actually worked together to bring about the change they wished to see in the world?

As the executive director of The Pollination Project (TPP), a public nonprofit that provides seed funding to early-stage grassroots projects around the globe, the question is particularly germane. We believe there is significant untapped wisdom and power in solutions that emerge and grow from the bottom up. We use the money we raise to support a vibrant grassroots community of global changemakers who seek to spread compassion for the benefit of all. 

Every day of the year, our network uses an intentional, peer-led vetting process to select a new project to receive $1,000 in seed funding. That's right — every day. As individual projects blossom, their leaders can access capacity-building support, encouragement, and networking opportunities within a specific geographic or focus area. We've found that supporting individuals at the local level is a particularly robust way to bring about change.

But as our grantee network has grown and the projects we support begin to reach maturity, the need for project leaders to be able to access financial capital beyond the scope of our micro-grants has become ever more clear. In response to that need, we have developed a collaborative approach with other funders we call Ladder Funding.

What is "Ladder Funding"?

Imagine providing a step stool, or ladder, to project leaders that enables them to reach new heights in their levels of engagement with donors and supporters. As an organization that provides seed funding to early-stage projects, TPP is the "bottom rung" of the ladder.  

Sometime after project leaders have received $1,000 in seed funding from us, we evaluate them based on the impact of the work they have done and their alignment with the values and priorities of TPP partners who may be able to provide additional funding in support of their longer-term goals. If we see a match, we connect them directly to those partners, thus helping them climb the ladder of funding.

The model has many advantages, for both project leaders and funders:

It is low-risk. We've seen success with this model, as it addresses both the challenges that many project leaders face in accessing funding while at the same time providing our partners with access to trusted, vetted grantees.

It is streamlined. The reports that project leaders submit to TPP at the end of their seed grant from us serve as an application of sorts to our funder partners. It's an approach that saves time and streamlines a process that typically is labor-intensive for everyone involved. 

It promotes diversification. Project leaders are connected to potential funders directly, which gives them a leg up in terms of diversifying their base of funding and building relationships that can help strengthen their work over the longer term.

It is relational, not transactional. Our model is based on a more holistic approach to the grantee-funder dynamic, allowing TPP and funders in our network to serve as true partners to the projects they fund while shifting the focus away from the transactional nature of that relationship.

We've had great success with this approach to date and have partnered with several funders, including the McGinnity Family Foundation, to provide our project leaders with additional financial and non-financial capital. By building their capacity in this way, we ensure that they have the resources to carry out their work more effectively and efficiently.

Headshot_Ajay DahiyaPerhaps more important, our approach creates opportunities for leaders to connect with the missions and values of like-minded peers and funders. And by emphasizing collaboration rather than fragmentation, we are helping to create impact that is more deeply aligned with a vision for a just and equitable world.

Ajay Dahiya is executive director of the The Pollination Project.

Weekend Link Roundup (March 21-22, 2020)

March 22, 2020

Coronavirus-times-square-subway-06There's no other way to put it: we've just experienced one of the most extraordinary weeks in our lifetimes. On the off-chance you were rafting the Grand Canyon, here's our weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector — and, yes, it's heavy on coronavirus-related items. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Economy

"This is not a hoax. Repeat, this is not a hoax." Multinational investment bank Morgan Stanley sees the U.S. economy falling into a deep recession in the second quarter, with GDP plunging 30 percent and unemployment spiking to nearly 13 percent. "Economic activity has come to a near standstill in March," the bank's economists said in a report to clients on Sunday. "As social distancing measures increase in a greater number of areas and as financial conditions tighten further, the negative effects on near-term GDP growth become that much greater." 

Education

On the Brookings site, Nicol Turner Lee, a governance studies fellow in the Center for Technology Innovation, notes that "[w]ith a disproportionate number of school-age children lacking home broadband access, the breadth of the U.S. digital divide has been revealed [by the pandemic] as schools struggle to substitute in-school resources with online instruction, electronic libraries, streaming videos, and other online tutorials."

Philanthropy

More than 200 (and counting) foundations — private, community, and public — have signed a pledge spearheaded by the Ford Foundation in partnership with the Council on Foundations to take urgent action "over the days, weeks, and months ahead" to help people and communities hit hardest by the impacts of COVID-19, including loosening or eliminating restrictions on current grants; reducing reporting requirements, site visits, and other demands; contributing to community-based emergency response funds and other efforts to address the health and economic impact on those most affected; communicating proactively and regularly about decision-making and response efforts; and committing to listening to  partners and, especially, to those communities whose voices are least heard.

Foundations and other endowed institutions tend to be quite protective of their corpora, thinking that they need to be saved for a rainy day. Nonprofit AF's Vu Le has a message for those institutions: This is your rainy day.

In New York City, which now has more COVID-19 cases than other locale in the United States, a group of foundations has created a $75 million fund, the NYC Covid-19 Response & Impact Fund, to help social service and arts and cultural organizations survive the slew of demands and cancellations brought on by the coronavirus outbreak.  Geoff Edgers and Peggy McGlone report for the Washington Post.

On the Wired site, Rob Reich, a professor of political science at Stanford University and author of Just Giving: Why Philanthropy is Failing Democracy and How It Can Do Better, and Mohit Mookim, a researcher at Stanford's Center for Ethics in Society, argue that when government fails us, we need to resist the temptation to look to rich people like Bill Gates. "[S]sure, private funding of global public health is valuable. But the demands of fighting a pandemic are much bigger than the capacity of even our wealthiest private philanthropists." That said, big philanthropy does have a role to play in a crisis like this, write Reich and Mookim. "Its distinctive and essential function is to serve as the risk capital for a democratic society, directing resources to fund experiments and discover solutions to social problems that neither the market nor government is well-suited to do."

Our colleagues at Candid are tracking the philanthropic response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including a list of funds — more than a hundred and forty and many locally focused — specifically established to address emergency needs and the social and economic impacts of COVID-19.  And here on PhilanTopic, our ood friend and sector veteran Michael Seltzer has some excellent advice for funders looking to boost their impact in the COVID-19 era.

Public Affairs

The folks at Independent Sector are tracking the U.S. Senate's efforts to pass a COVID-19 relief package — the third such package to be assembled by Congress this week — with a particular eye on its provisions (or lack thereof) for nonprofits (Small Business Administration loans; universal charitable deduction). IS will be holding a call Monday, March 23, at 11:00 am ET to share the latest. (Registration required.)

Public Health

The numbers for tracking the progress of the COVID-19 pandemic are grim. But this is probably the most-up-to-date and frequently updated source for them.

The interactives team at the New York Times has put together a startling visualization showing how the virus spread from its source of origin in Wuhan, China.

So, what can we expect over the next eighteen months? Your guess is as good as mine. But probably not as good as epidemiologist Larry Brilliant's, the founding executive director of Google.org, here in conversation with Wired.

And in a truly comprehensive and statistically impressive article on Medium, Thomas Pueyo (with the help of "a group of normal citizens working around the clock to find all the relevant research available to structure it into one piece") crunches the numbers and argues that we can avoid the worst-case scenario — if government and our public health officials move now to buy us time.

(Photo: New York Post: Taidgh Barron)

That's it for now. Drop us a line at Mitch.Nauffts@Candid.org if you have something you'd like to share.

Advice to Funders in the Covid-19 Era

March 18, 2020

For people born after November 23, 1963, 9/11 was an emotional and psychological shock unlike any we had experienced. The financial crisis of 2008 and the Great Recession that followed were a shock of a different kind: slower, murkier, more abstract — until, that is, people we knew and loved started to lose their jobs. In the weeks and months that followed, I wrote a number of posts for PhilanTopic (here, here, and here) aimed at helping my social sector colleagues navigate the difficult funding environment in which we suddenly found ourselves.

The coronavirus pandemic is a crisis of a different sort — both a biological threat as well as a threat to our economic security, stunning in its scope and the rapidity with which it has unfolded. In other words, existential.

Given the seriousness of the threat and the urgent need for a rapid, coordinated response, I offer these suggestions, with humility and deep respect, to my colleagues in the funder community. 

  1. Be flexible with your grant support.
  2. Endeavor to fast track your grants.
  3. Use community-based vendors whenever possible.
  4. Facilitate online meetups for grantees where they can air their concerns and share best practices and resources.
  5. Do not assume that your current grants are sufficient to cover the extraordinary demand, costs, and burdens that many nonprofits will be faced with over the coming months.
  6. Allow grantees to alter the budget terms of grants they have already received so as to maximize their flexibility.
  7. Be prepared to make long-term commitments and be in it for the long haul.
  8. Understand that while the virus is first and foremost a public health emergency, its impact will extend to a host of other  areas.
  9. Do your utmost to support local, culturally competent organizations, which are often the first point of access for at-risk individuals and groups.
  10. Remember the bigger picture and be generous with grantees with respect to your reporting requirements.

Michael Seltzer is a distinguished lecturer at the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs, Baruch College, City University of New York, board  chair of the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa-USAand a long-time contributor to PhilanTopic. To read more from Michael, click here.

Jeff Bezos and Climate Change

March 17, 2020

Jeff_bezosJeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon and, according to Forbes, the world's richest man, has asserted himself in the race to address our greatest global threat, the climate crisis. In February, Bezos announced he was donating $10 billion to fight a problem that is affecting the entire planet…and one that is currently exacerbated by corporations such as his own.

Some might argue that, by making this pledge, Bezos is guilty of greenwashing — trying to persuade the public that he, and his company, are doing more to protect the environment than they actually are. The evidence would seem to support that view. In fiscal year 2018, the online retailer was one of the worst polluters in the United States, emitting 44.4 million metric tons of carbon, far exceeding the emissions of other trillion-dollar companies such as Apple, Alphabet, and Microsoft, as well as package delivery giants UPS and FedEx. And globally, the company is ranked with oil and gas producers as one of the top two hundred carbon emitters in the world. Bezos himself has come under fire in recent months for silencing climate activists within Amazon, Inc. and dodging climate agreements, even while committing the company to carbon neutrality by 2040.

When philanthropists from the tech world set out to solve complex social problems, they often adopt an outcome-oriented approach. Drawing on their business expertise, they want to be able to see and report on short-term, measurable results.

Other philanthropists approach their giving through a field-oriented lens, involving many different stakeholders and tackling the problem from several angles — leading, in many cases, to more sustainable, long-term impact.

Bezos alluded to this field-oriented approach in his announcement, stating that he intends to fund "scientists, activists, NGOs." But the language he uses is so vague that it's difficult to know which form his climate change philanthropy will take. The structure of the Bezos Green Fund, the main vehicle for his climate change philanthropy, is also unclear. Will it be structured in a way that enables it to lobby for policy change? How will Bezos's position as president and CEO of Amazon and his personal stake in the company affect the fund's grantmaking choices? Will it favor grantees that demonstrate a full commitment to immediate climate action, or will Bezos's money amplify the voices of more moderate groups that, intentionally or otherwise, actually slow progress on the climate change front? Given the ambiguity of his February statement, it's hard to know.

As things stand, Bezos’s call to "protect [Earth], together" rings hollow, given that his company is a massive contributor to the climate crisis and gives no sign of changing its stripes. If Jeff Bezos truly wants to be a leader in combating climate change, he needs to walk the talk. He could, for instance, commit to more aggressive climate-friendly initiatives within Amazon itself, such as investing in green packaging and transportation. Amazon's one-day delivery service is responsible for a large share of its carbon footprint, and the company should be rethinking how it provides that service. As Amazon Employees for Climate Justice have noted, "Amazon...has work to do: halting its support of the fossil fuel industry, stopping donations to climate-denying politicians and think tanks, and stopping enabling the oppression of climate refugees."

For the sake of the planet — and the perceived legitimacy of the Bezos Green Fund — Jeff Bezos needs to offer the rest of us a more transparent and comprehensive climate change strategy. And he needs to step up the pace of climate action within Amazon itself. It is time for both Bezos and Amazon to take meaningful action to address climate change. If and when they do, we can only hope other major corporations follow suit.

(Photo: AP: Cliff Owen)

Sierra Stephens, Lillie Heyman, and Hannah Connors are undergrad students at the University of Michigan's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

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More:

Jeff Bezos Pledges $10 Billion To Fight Climate Change, Planet's 'Biggest Threat'

Bezos Commits $10 Billion to Climate Action

Why doesn’t Jeff Bezos pay more tax instead of launching a $10bn green fund?

Amazon's Jeff Bezos pledges $10bn to save Earth's environment

Update on the Philanthropic Response to COVID-19

March 13, 2020

Editor's note: Since this post was published on the Candid blog two days ago, Candid has released a pop-up webpage focused on philanthropy’s response to the novel coronavirus emergency. Although we plan to update the page regularly, there often are lags in getting data from different sources, so be sure to check it often for updates.

800px-2019-nCoV-CDC-23312_without_backgroundOn March 3, we reported on the philanthropic response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. At that time, donations in support of the response to the outbreak dwarfed funding for emergency relief and recovery efforts in response to recent natural disasters: whereas pledges and donations for eight recent major hurricanes, earthquakes, and wildfires totaled more than $898 million, the philanthropic response to the COVID-19 outbreak quickly surpassed $980 million. The vast majority of the funds — both in terms of number of pledges and dollar value — came from donors in China and the United States, with private companies leading the way.

Those totals have grown since our first post. Here is the latest update (as of March 10).

What has changed

  • Total giving has increased from $980 million to $1.3 billion.
  • The number of pledges from South Korea has grown from three to nine, with the total dollar amount of pledges from that country increasing from $6.2 million to $46.7 million.
  • The new funders from South Korea are:
    • Amorepacific Corporation
    • Hyundai Motor Company
    • LG Group
    • Samsung Group
    • SK Group
  • Corporate giving, which accounted for 86 percent of the pledges and 81 percent of the dollar value, now comprises 83 percent of pledges and 80 percent of the dollar value.
  • China and the United States, which accounted for 84 percent of the pledges and 97 percent of the dollar value, now account for 80 percent of pledges and 90 percent of the dollar value.
  • Evergrande Group, a China-based real estate company, is the most generous donor, contributing $115 million to a consortium of Boston-area clinicians and research institutions in support of their efforts to develop diagnostic tools, treatments, and vaccines for COVID-19. And the Wellcome Trust, a UK-based foundation, has contributed $50 million to the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator in support of its efforts to coordinate research and development of therapeutics and remove barriers to scaling treatments for the disease.

We are in the process of adding these and other COVID-19 pledges to our free Measuring the State of Disaster Philanthropy funding map, which was created in partnership with the Center for Disaster Philanthropy.

Agrabois_picHave an update we should know about? Email Andrew Grabois, corporate philanthropy manager at Candid, at Andrew.Grabois@Candid.org.

Economic Democracy: A Conversation With Funders

March 12, 2020

Diane_Ives_Scott_AbramsThe Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative (BCDI), in partnership with the Kendeda Fund and the Open Society Foundations (OSF), recently hosted a funder briefing on economic democracy. In the lead-up to the briefing, Sandra Lobo, BCDI board vice president and executive director of the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition — a founding member organization of the BCDI — sat down with Diane Ives from the Kendeda Fund and Scott Abrams from OSF to better understand how economic democracy became a priority for their foundations and the opportunities and challenges ahead. Ives has served since 2003 as fund advisor for the Kendeda Fund's People, Place, and Planet program, while Abrams is director of special initiatives for OSF's Economic Justice Program, where he focuses on early-stage high-risk bets aimed at advancing the concept of economic advancement globally. 

In a wide-ranging conversation, Lobo, Ives, and Abrams discussed their respective decisions to invest in BCDI, what funders need to do to support one another in this work, and why there is a need to create a collective consciousness around economic democracy. Economic democracy is a framework in which people share ownership over the assets and resources in their communities and govern and steward them democratically for a shared purpose. It's not just about more participation; it's about sharing power.

The transcript below, provided by BCDI, has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Sandra Lobo: You all have funded a number of different kinds of work in your tenure. How did economic democracy become a priority for you and your respective programs, and given what you've seen and learned, why do you think it's important?

Diane Ives: When I first started at Kendeda, we didn't even call it the People, Place, and Planet program. It was an environmental sustainability program. We were using the very familiar Venn diagram of sustainability, economics, and equity, and we realized that we were funding in all three of those areas but not where the overlap was, which is really what we were trying to get at. So we made a shift in 2012 toward a vision of "well-being for all within the means of the planet." Once we made that shift, it was easier for us to explore what we call "community wealth-building," which is this notion that communities should have agency around the decisions about their neighborhood and that they're able to retain and build the wealth they need to activate what they really want their neighborhoods and communities to be. So that was the shift we went through between 2012 and 2014.

Scott Abrams: A lot of what Diane just said in terms of community wealth-building resonates very strongly, but let me take a step back and explain how we came to this body of work. The first is widening inequality around the world — in terms of wealth and income — and a second is the way in which the structural deficiencies with the economy have been a driving force for populism and autocratic government we've seen all over the world. Part of our diagnosis is that so many people feel they've lost all control over the economy, and their role within it. This feeling of precariousness and vulnerability has fed a host of unsavory, radical, and regressive political outcomes.  

Questions of redistributive policy are difficult to grapple with in today's political climate. One of the ways in which we think about addressing these issues is to try to build models or spotlight examples of where democratic forms of economic activity are taking root. And a part of that for us is, of course, advancing shared ownership at the firm level and supporting ecosystems that enable more democratic forms of economic activity. Our larger, longer-term hypothesis is that some of those examples could help inspire replication, upscaling, et cetera, which would then impact the way people think about the economy more generally.

Sandra Lobo: Would you say those dynamics were always there, or have they shifted over time?

Scott Abrams: There's a great line from Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises where one of the characters is asked how he went bankrupt, and he answers: "Two ways. Gradually and then suddenly." What we see is a long steady march toward a worrisome dynamic epitomized by some of the political transformations we've seen with the election of Donald Trump, with Brexit, with the rise of Jair Bolsonaro [in Brazil], of Viktor Orbán [in Hungary], and the like. It has been a long time in the making — and partly the result of economic policy over the last forty or fifty years — but things have shifted very quickly recently.

Sandra Lobo: Tell us about the kind of investments you've made within Kendeda's economic democracy framework.

Diane Ives: In the United States, we have done a lot of really interesting work in different venues trying to understand what democracy means for government but have put very little effort into understanding what democracy means for the economy. It's almost as if the economy has been given a pass. We focus so much on policy, so much on elected officials, and so much on the rule of law. But the conversation is never about democratizing the economy and what that would mean and how that would benefit us overall. Instead, we've just accepted the neoliberal approach to the economy without asking, "Well, what does it mean for us in the United States as a democracy? How does this actually match up?"

With that in mind, I would say that some of the funding we do involves taking baby steps. Scott, you talked about this notion of shared ownership at the firm level. Is there a way we could get workers to ask every single day what it means to be part of an economic democracy in terms of decision making around where they work and all the different ways they engage in the economy on a day-to-day basis? It's that kind of truly tactile experience that needs to be scaled up, because it's not going to be a top-down, policy-driven directive. Whether the question is, "How do we convert a business to shared ownership?" or "How do we create a right-of-first-refusal for tenants to buy their buildings?", the minute you start thinking differently about how we, as economic actors, interact with the economy, an entirely different set of  options are on the table.

Some of the funding we've awarded has been to groups like the The Democracy Collaborative and the MIT Community Innovators Lab — groups that are thinking about ways to scale some of these examples on the ground. We've also supported groups like BCDI, PUSH Buffalo in western New York, the Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation, which works on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, and Nexus Community Partners in the Twin Cities. And we've been looking at shared ownership in the workplace, making a series of grants around cooperative development for workplaces and converting existing businesses into worker coops or ESOPs [employee stock ownership plans].

Scott Abrams: For us, it's quite similar, actually. We have some of the same partners, which is a good sign on the one hand, in that we both have a lot of trust in the same folks, and not such a good thing on the other, in that it could be a sign that the field is not as diverse as one would hope. So our theory of change effectively has been to build out ecosystems for shared ownership. We want to support a few experiments that are up and running in a place-based manner, BCDI in the Bronx being one of them. We have similar initiatives in the UK — you may have heard of Preston, for example — and we also fund learning networks like the ones Diane mentioned — for example, The Democracy Collaborative, et cetera — that help link learnings across different sites and develop insights and lessons around those real-world experiments.

The other thing we feel is really important is that this doesn't become a politicized body of work. It need not be. So we're trying to balance our approach to where we work — places that are urban and politically blue — the Bronx is a good example — and hoping, once it takes root, that it is seen as a viable model for places that are far less blue and far less urban, places like western North Carolina and Colorado. Ideally, we would like to have two governors from different parties bring the concept of economic democracy and shared ownership to the National Governors Association.

Sandra Lobo: What would you say are some of the challenges and opportunities — and I'm linking them because sometimes they're one and the same — within the work you both are doing?

Diane Ives: I'll Identify two things we've been thinking about in terms of challenges that are also opportunities. Scott, you hinted at it when you mentioned that we all seem to be funding the same groups. I do feel like there are a lot more places out there that we could support than we are supporting, and that makes me hopeful. I also feel like the interstitial community and the opportunity for shared learning is still at a very early stage of development. I think a lot of groups are toiling away on their own without having a whole lot of connectivity to other groups. So one of the challenges we have been looking at is around communications and messaging. Everyone uses different language, and maybe that's necessary, but at the same time maybe there are some common ways we can talk about this work.

We are just about to sign a contract with a firm that is going to help us with communications. This is a dream right now — we'll see where it ends up — but when you look at the gay rights movement, one day it was about protection and the next it was about love. What is the language we need to describe and explain the shared economy? Is it about "beloved" businesses that "nurture" us every day? Can we come up with a different way to talk about the work?

We also need shared metrics. There's a real need for understanding what investors want to see and also for pushing investors to think about their metrics differently. We're not just talking about profit; instead, we're asking, "What assets are staying in the community?" How do you measure that in a way that causes an investor to say, "This is worth investing in"? That's the piece we are eager to explore.

Scott Abrams: The thing is that right now the concept of shared ownership is not deeply rooted in the psyche of most people in the country. It just doesn't exist as a concept, and the result is that there are groups like The Working World that help with conversions, but a lot of the time and energy and cost goes into reaching out to people and getting them interested in the idea, and then, and only then, beginning the process of training them how to do it. However, there is a window of opportunity opening up with the baby boomer generation starting to retire in large numbers and business owners starting to look for people like us, in which case the costs may come down markedly and the speed at which conversions take place rises exponentially. The work that Diane just described around language and messaging is absolutely critical, and we have to find a way to get this idea out into mass culture. A colleague of mine had the somewhat-wild idea of creating a reality show, but instead of, you know, opening a locker or flipping a house, it would be about converting a business to worker ownership.

Sandra Lobo: I love that idea.

Scott Abrams: Right? That kind of thinking is a way to expose the concept to a much larger audience. It's a huge opportunity for so many people who are going to see their legacy evaporate because they have no one to leave their businesses to — except their employees, which is something that rarely occurred to them. And, of course, it also rarely occurs to employees to approach an owner with that option. 

Sandra Lobo: I want to talk a little about how unique you both were in terms of your support for BCDI. Diane, you were a very early investor — you gave us our first major grant in 2014 — and you structured it as general operating support over multiple years. Some people might say that's a super-risky move for an unproven organization with very little history. What made you confident enough to make such an investment so early on, and what kind of impact were you looking for at that stage?

Diane Ives: When we first got the proposal from BCDI, it was for one year. Our donor was excited about the concept, but asked, "What are they going to accomplish in one year?" and I replied, "Well, probably not much." I mean, the first year you over-promise and work really hard, but typically there are a lot of bumps in the road. Our donor  said, "I don't want to reevaluate them in a year. I want to see how far they can get, so let's extend the grant and give them a little more running room." It was her idea to make it a multiyear grant. And, of course, it was really smart that she insisted on it, because you tried some things that first year that didn't pan out, and if we had just looked at the grant at the end of the first year we would have thought we had made a bad decision. Instead, we were in it with you, we wanted to see what was next, and it was a really interesting opportunity for us to go on this journey with you all over a period of time. 

I think part of what we realized early on was that if this were easy, it already would have been done, and at scale, so if it's not easy, then what kind of infrastructure is needed to allow for the complexity to be explored and better understood? Our metrics were more about: Can BCDI pull together the right players for its board? Can the board grapple with some of these tougher issues? Is there a way to focus the work but still embrace the complexity of the whole? Those were the kinds of things we were looking for. It took a while, but you got there.

Sandra Lobo: Scott, you came on board a bit later and awarded BCDI a substantial grant in 2019 that helped us transition from a late startup phase to our growth phase. What drew you to us initially, and what were you looking for at that stage of our evolution? How did we fit into the other investments you had made around shared ownership and economic democracy?

Scott Abrams: I’ve already mentioned our interest in supporting learning networks and a couple of concrete examples where we’ve seen early traction. And those investments helped lead us to BCDI. Some other considerations were that, since this was a new line of work for us and the Bronx is just five miles north of where we are sitting, it was a good opportunity to have a lot of interface with a team while we were learning ourselves.

Very pragmatically, in addition to the grantmaking work we do, we also run an impact investment fund. And there may one day be opportunities to deploy investment capital into some of the things BCDI helps foster — for example in some of the companies that are emerging from the Bronx Innovation Factory you run or the BronXchange. So it was a nice confluence of factors, and it turned into our first entry into place-based work within the economic democracy space nationally. The BCDI team is deeply passionate and deeply rooted in the Bronx. You already had experience with fighting back, and while that is incredibly useful, the fighting forward piece of the work is where we wanted to contribute. 

Sandra Lobo: What were the elements that allowed you to say, "Yes, this is what we want to be investing in"? 

Diane Ives: I guess there were a couple of things. One is that you demonstrated a willingness to tackle head-on the challenges you saw instead of sidelining them. Also, we were curious about how the work would evolve over time. How are your board members, who each represent an important community group in the Bronx, going to come together and prioritize the work of BCDI? How are they going to see this as a value-add to their own work and not a competition? That was something that made me say, "We need to go on this journey because this is something that we desperately need in other places and this is not something we've been able to figure out, for the most part." That was something we were super-excited about.

And I would also say that BCDI started with a very deep race and class analysis and a willingness to lead with race and class as an approach to the work, as opposed to trying to overlay it or rejigger it. It was, "No, we're starting there and that's how we’re moving forward!"

Scott Abrams: So three reasons for us: One, race and class. I won't repeat that. That was a huge part of our thinking. Two, the fact that it was very much connected to MIT CoLab [Community Innovators Lab] was appealing because we thought that so much of the learning could go back to a hub and be channeled out through that mechanism. That was really important to us. And three, a really important concept in our work in this space has been participation — and not for technocrats sitting somewhere and devising solutions for something, but rather the participation of many people mobilizing and thinking together. BCDI is an amalgamation of many other networks of community groups in the borough, and some of the participatory campaigns that took place prior, for example over the Kingsbridge Armory, spoke to the importance of participation for us.

Sandra Lobo: Last question. Focusing on philanthropy overall, what kind of space do you think we need to create for funders to learn about and support economic democracy? And what advice would you share with those who might want to shift their funding in this direction?

Diane Ives: One of my taglines is "Help people not be afraid of a changing economy." Part of what I see among funder colleagues in particular, as well as in some of the groups we work with, is this attitude that the economy is something that just happens and we just have to work around it because it's not something we can engage in or control. People get nervous about it.

I would say funders need more opportunities to experience the work. Seeing it firsthand is very powerful, whether it’s a trip to the Bronx or a trip to Mondragón in Spain or a trip to Emilia Romagna in Italy. I would also say we need more conversations among the different groups that are working in different places along with funders. We need to create spaces and opportunities where we’re all coming together more and talking about what we're learning.

Scott Abrams: ​One of the things we’re funding with The Democracy Collaborative is a working group on shared ownership that brings together people from five or six cities that are thinking about an ecosystem strategy much like BCDI's. We’re connecting that working group to a number of interesting examples across the country, from Cincinnati to the Industrial Commons [in North Carolina]. Amazingly, none of the members of The Democracy Collaborative working group had heard about the work in the Bronx or Industrial Commons. So we're looking now at how we can take advantage of existing convening spaces and tack on extra learning experiences for people to talk through and get inspired by these living examples.

Sandra Lobo: Well, this has been such a great opportunity to dig into your work with BCDI and economic democracy as a whole. Thank you both so much for your time.

Sandra_Lobo_for_PhilanTopicSandra Lobo is board vice president of the Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative and executive director of the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition.

4 Design Essentials to Spark Lasting Change

March 11, 2020

Top_hands_inAmerican corporations, individuals and foundations gave over $425 billion to universities, cultural institutions, hospitals, and other nonprofit organizations last year, including significant funding hoping to address some of the biggest challenges we face across the country and around the globe — from climate change to homelessness. And yet, we have not made substantial progress on most of these systemic issues. That has to change.

The truth is the most critical and pressing systemic challenges our nation and our world are facing are too large and too complex to be solved by any individual organization working alone. But most funding flows to individual organizations. This mismatch is a key reason why progress too often stalls. To effect lasting, system-level change, funders must increase their support for coordinated, collaborative efforts — and demand no less from their grantees.

With decades of grantmaking experience between us, we decided to do the research to find evidence-based essentials that networks and coalitions need to make real progress toward meaningful, sustainable goals. Dell Technologies and 100Kin10, a network focused on addressing the nation's STEM teacher shortage, partnered to examine how to create and fund the kind of collective or networked efforts that can spark lasting change. This extensive analysis of successful, coalition-based social change efforts uncovered four "design essentials," elements that each effort needed to succeed. Here is what we learned:

1. It's not enough to have a shared purpose. It needs to be specific. No organization or coalition can address every issue at once. That’s why aligning on a specific vision and purpose across your coalition is essential. Just look at the Freedom to Marry campaign, which built its Civil Marriage Collaborative around raising funds in support of building a state-to-state movement with one unifying cause: the right for gay and lesbian couples to marry. Before approaching funders, the leaders of Freedom to Marry first made sure they were aligned on that goal and then pitched funders based on it (rather than in support of individual programs). There are other creative ways to make sure your shared purpose and your funding are connected. From the Ground Up, a redevelopment project in Milwaukee's Menomonee Valley, raised $25 million for a nonprofit entity that the entire region created for the purpose of fundraising for a wider group of organizations, all of which shared an interest in the redevelopment and then had shared access to the capital.

2. Investing time and resources in trust-building pays off. Building trust between network partners takes time and patience. But without that you'll find it much harder to align on a vision and execute it. One network that did a great job of creating trust between partners is RE-AMP, a Midwest-based coalition of more than a hundred and thirty organizations across eight states with a goal of reducing regional global warming emissions by 80 percent. To build trust among organizations that come from a variety of perspectives RE-AMP offers workshops to mitigate tensions and interpersonal challenges and facilitate regular opportunities for working groups to meet face-to-face.

Building trust with the communities you serve is also a key part of success. Co-Impact, a new global model housed at the Rockefeller Foundation that connects philanthropists with one another and with social change leaders around scalable, proven solutions, makes sure philanthropists meet with other sector leaders to build trust among all parties, including community representatives. The investments both organizations made will help them work through challenges and get results that would otherwise be nearly impossible.

3. Expect at least some failure. Putting pressure on a huge collaborative effort to succeed immediately is not an effective way to lead. Bringing people together in this context means changing your perspective on failure. Namely, failure should be viewed as a short-term bump — it's often these bumps that cause critical self-reflection and learning, which is crucial to the long-term success of your network. The Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) works on high-risk research projects that often don’t have any near-term payoff. But this challenge is part of the success of the projects. Without DARPA's willingness to embrace failure, we wouldn't have inventions like GPS.

4. Use incentives to foster collaboration. Networks don't happen on their own — in order to push collaboration, there need to be stakes. In our research, we found that every successful, coordinated effort incentivized its partners (though they often used different means to do so). For example, the National Science Foundation (NSF) can revoke funding if collaboration does not work, which encourages commitment and coordination from members. The Sustainable Apparel Coalition uses transparency among coalition members as a tool to incentivize positive activity. Their HIGG index, which measures and scores how sustainable a company or product is, shows members how partners (and competitors) are making their supply chain more sustainable.

While all networked organizations seeking to catalyze systemic change should include these four elements/areas, a one-size-fits-all approach will not work. There are also flexible, "design considerations" we discovered that come into play. Unlike the essentials, these considerations are aspects often found in successful social change efforts that should be tailored to the specific needs of the members and their institutional contexts. These include the level of funder involvement, who makes decisions within the group, and whether and how to foster competition among partners.

The world is a messy, complicated place, and solving interconnected, systemic problems requires patience and resilience. Grantmaking organizations and grantee organizations now have the opportunity and the drive to step outside of how they have always done things and really think about how best to structure their efforts and be catalysts for lasting change. Social innovators (and the funders they rely on) should prioritize these elements in their work as they strive to make the world a better place.

Talia Milgrom-Elcott_Jessica_AndersonTalia Milgrom-Elcott is co-founder and executive director of 100Kin10 (@100kin10). Jessica Anderson is director of strategic giving at Dell (@DellTech).

The Arc of Justice: The World’s Religions Launch Strategic Priorities for Peace

March 09, 2020

DoveAs the coronavirus public health crisis grows increasingly urgent, prominent global actors and institutions, including the United Nations, are wrestling with the realization that all hands on deck are required to address the cross-cutting global challenges we face. The latest disease pandemic is but one of the major global challenges demanding coordinated and effective responses from diverse institutions and civil society networks. Another, income inequality, continues to widen, with the world's richest 1 percent in 2020 holding twice as much wealth as 6.9 billion of the planet's people. And while the political and economic will to combat climate change is needed more than ever, virtually every sovereign state is behind in its commitments to the Paris Agreement.

With communities ravaged by ongoing conflict, a record 70 million people have fled their homes. As calls for change echo across the globe, the percentage of people in 2019 living in countries where civic space is considered "repressed" more than doubled. Things fundamental to securing human dignity — the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to society, the power to demand change, freedom from any and all forms of discrimination, and the ability to live within and nurture a sustainable environment — are rapidly being eroded. These challenges are striking at a time when multilateralism is threatened, space for civil society is shrinking, and calls for more walls of separation are getting louder.

On a more optimistic note, the opportunity to forge ahead despite the turmoil may well exist within the deepest and broadest infrastructures ever created and sustained by humankind: the world's religious communities, to which 80 percent of humanity claims some affiliation. In recent years, international attention has undeniably been focused on the rise in religiously motivated violence, furthering the focus on religion as (part of) the problem.

However, a relatively lesser known reality in parallel with these trends may offer solutions: a growing global network of believers working to address these challenges through a unique process of multi-religious peacebuilding. These religious leaders and constituents hail from religious and spiritual communities as diverse and complex as the world in which we live. They are collaborating on and implementing various development, humanitarian, and peace processes, guiding their societies toward cohesion, respect for difference, and a culture of peace.

By convening representative of these religious communities, as well as leadership at the national and regional level, Religions for Peace — a multi-religious peacebuilding coalition with interreligious platforms in ninety countries across six regions — has developed a unique and powerful mechanism for furthering multi-religious collaboration and peacebuilding.

At the Religions for Peace 10th World Assembly in August 2019, more than one thousand representatives from a hundred and twenty-five countries developed a framework for organizing future collaborative action to address these and other global challenges. Another global consultation in December 2019 engaged over two hundred and fifty religious leaders in focused and honest deliberations, ultimately emerging with a consensus to prioritize six strategic areas: peaceful, just and inclusive societies; gender equality; the environment; freedom of thought, conscience and religion; interreligious education; and global partnerships. Uniting religious and Indigenous leaders for the protection of tropical forests is key to nurturing a sustainable environment and is a matter requiring both moral urgency and action. Those in attendance also agreed to champion the universal right to thought, conscience, and religion within and beyond their own constituencies, including a commitment to coordinate faith-based responses to the rise in attacks on holy sites and places of worship.

Attendees also embraced a deeper focus on interreligious education — not to reinvent the wheel, but to bring together existing work and curricula from all corners of the world in an effort to facilitate knowledge, counter misperceptions, and dispel the ignorance  at the root of intolerance, hatred, and violence. Religions for Peace movement leaders also committed to develop innovative approaches, seek solutions together, and scale up multi-stakeholder partnerships with businesses, governments, and civil society.

These goals and actions correspond to the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals agenda and will be measured and assessed using the SDG indicators agreed to by all UN member states.

The priorities identified in our strategic plan are built on the legacy of many powerful and effective interventions. Over the half-century of Religions for Peace's existence, these interreligious platforms have amassed a solid record of multi-religious engagement, including mediating conflict and negotiating the release of child hostages in Sierra Leone, providing care and support for orphans and vulnerable children affected by HIV/AIDS, mobilizing twenty-one million youth for global disarmament, and forging partnerships between religious and Indigenous communities for rainforest protection — to name but a few.

These priorities also herald a new era of resolve, and courage, among the world's senior-most religious leaders and institutions. For such a movement, built on and by traditional religious institutions, to make gender equality a strategic priority is historic. After electing the coalition's first woman secretary-general in 2019, Religions for Peace leadership is sending a clear message of commitment to action that includes a focus on increasing women's leadership and impact within the movement, and beyond.

It is this blend of renewed and bold resolve, together with skills steeped in decades of experience with multi-religious and -cultural engagement in the areas of development and human rights, which reinforces our belief that the world's people are ready to embrace alternative cultures of healing and peace. And interreligious councils not only drive the solution — they are a necessary part of the solution. On this 75th year of the United Nations system, Religions for Peace — through its global, regional, national, and grassroots interreligious council platforms — acknowledges and supports the call for more holistic responses to cross-cutting global challenges. With our five-year strategic plan in place and future actions co-designed and approved by representatives of all the world's religious institutions, we hereby call on the word's governments, civil societies, and multi-lateral institutions to come together to create more peaceful, just, and inclusive societies that leave no one behind.

Headshot_Azza Karam_Kyoichi SuginoDr. Azza Karam and Rev. Kyoichi Sugino are secretary general-elect and secretary-general, respectively, of Religions for Peace, a New York City-based international coalition of representatives from the world's religions dedicated to promoting peace globally.

Funders Respond to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

March 06, 2020

On the last day of 2019, China advised the World Health Organization that some people in the city of Wuhan (Hubei province) were infected with an unknown strain of viral pneumonia.  Those infected were traced back to the city's Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. On January 7, Chinese officials announced that they had identified a new virus belonging to the coronavirus family, which was dubbed novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Since then, the renamed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has killed more than 3,000 people, infected over 100,000 in at least 60 countries, and is present on every continent except Antarctica.

Candid has been closely tracking the global private philanthropic response to COVID-19 through news stories and other publicly available resources. Although the response to the virus has followed a familiar pattern, both in terms of funders and recipients, its scope has dwarfed funding for recent natural disasters in the United States and elsewhere. Since September 2017, Candid has identified pledges and donations for eight major hurricanes, earthquakes, and wildfires totaling more than $898 million; philanthropic funding announced in the last five weeks for COVID-19 alone has reached $980 million. [Ed. note: as of March 4, the figure had exceeded $1 billion.]

Fig.1.1 funding-for-recent-disasters

Obviously, epidemics and pandemics are not natural disasters, so if we want to compare funding for the COVID-19 response to a similar event, we have to go back to the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. In that situation, Candid identified pledges and donations totaling more than $363 million over a period of six months, which is only a third of the COVID-19 response to date.

Although COVID-19 is a transnational epidemic on its way to becoming a global pandemic, almost all private funding we've been able to identify from publicly available sources — 76 percent of the pledges and 93 percent of the dollar value — has come from China and the United States. If you count Hong Kong and Macao, both "special administrative regions (SAR)" of China, the two countries account for 84 percent of the pledges and 97 percent of the dollar value.

Fig.12

In the United States, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation early on announced a commitment of up to $100 million to "strengthen detection, isolation and treatment efforts; protect at-risk populations; and develop vaccines, treatments and diagnostics." The foundation's commitment accounts for 55 percent of all contributions to date from private philanthropic sources in the U.S. and is consistent with U.S. private funding in response to the 2014 Ebola outbreak, when contributions from Gates and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation accounted for more than 57 percent of the contributions from private philanthropy in the U.S. The only other U.S. funder in the top 20 is Chicago-based Citadel LLC, one of the world's largest hedge funds. The single most generous donor so far has been Chinese Internet giant Tencent Holdings, which has pledged $216.3 million, both directly and through its foundation, totaling 22 percent of private contributions globally. (Although the company's name might strike some English speakers as ironic, given the size of its contribution, it actually means "galloping fast information" in Chinese.)

Fig.1.3

As is usually true of the response to natural disasters, companies have responded first and disproportionately, accounting for 86 percent of all COVID-19 pledges and 81 percent of the total dollar value of the private response. When grants from both companies and their foundations are counted, those figures increase to 95 percent of the pledges and 86 percent of the dollar value.

Fig.1.4 funders-by-type

Other observations:

  • Most COVID-19 pledges and donations were announced over a period of two weeks. Between January 23, when the first pledge was announced, and February 5, funders committed 74 grants totaling $638 million, accounting for 42 percent of pledges and 65 percent of the total dollar amount.
  • Unspecified recipients in impacted areas of China received 57 percent of pledges accounting 75 percent of the total dollar value of all contributions; multiple named recipients received 8 percent of pledges and 13 percent of the dollar value; and among single-named recipients the Red Cross accounted for 15 percent of pledges and 6 percent of the dollar value.
  • A number of Chinese technology companies are offering to build "hot diagnosis maps," "pneumonia prevention channels," and infrastructure for video meetings and online education courses. One of the largest such commitments came from Squirrel AI Learning, an adaptive learning education company specializing in K-12 afterschool tutoring, which announced that it would provide $72.1 million worth of online K-12 education courses across China free of charge.

Will private philanthropy continue to fund the front-line response to COVID-19, or will it largely step aside, as it did during the 2014 Ebola crisis, in favor of mega-funding from a few well-endowed family foundations and large-scale actions taken by nation-states and transnational organizations? It's hard to say. A lot depends on how well governments and multilateral institutions perform. You can be sure of one thing, however: Candid will be watching.

Headshot_Andrew_GraboisIn the meantime, we're in the process of adding COVID-19 pledges on our free, publicly accessible Measuring the State of Disaster Philanthropy funding map, which was created in partnership with the Center for Disaster Philanthropy.

Andrew Grabois is corporate philanthropy manager at Candid. This post originally appeared on the Candid blog.

Coronavirus Highlights the Gaping Holes in Our Healthcare and Labor System

March 05, 2020

FastFoodWorkersMaps and daily counts of the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) around the world have become a staple of television, the Internet, and print media. Not unreasonably, Americans fearful of contracting the virus have emptied their local supermarkets and drugstores of masks, soap, and hand sanitizers in hopes that simple measures will protect them. Meanwhile, concerned officials are telling people they should speak to their employers about their work-from-home options and, if they begin to exhibit flu-like symptoms, to stay home.

Unfortunately, this latest global pandemic throws into stark relief the status of our broken healthcare and labor systems. Low-wage workers who care for our children, staff our hospitals, and work the kitchens and cash registers in our fast food restaurants cannot work at home. Nor, in the event they get sick without adequate insurance, can they afford to get tested for COVID-19 or obtain medical care. For them, and many others, missing a day's pay almost always results in dire financial consequences. Many have no paid sick days or family care days; they live in constant fear of losing their wages or, worse, their jobs. And if schools are closed, who will care for their own children when they report to work?

The all-but-inevitable spread of the virus in the United States is about to bring us face-to-face with a simple fact: masks (as the surgeon-general reminded us in a tweet!) and hand sanitizers will not make us safe; only fair wages, a strong social safety net, and universal paid family and medical leave will protect Americans from the worst consequences of the virus. In a quote that has circulated widely across social media, journalist and author Anand Giridharadas observed, "Coronavirus makes clear what has been true all along. Your health is as safe as that of the worst-insured, worst-cared-for person in your society. It will be decided by the height of the floor, not the ceiling."

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Five Strategies for Advancing Your Mission in 2020

March 04, 2020

Social_media_icons_for_PhilanTopicThe months leading up to the presidential election in November are a critical period for philanthropic and nonprofit leaders interested in shaping public discourse around a range of issues. It promises to be a period when Americans weigh everything from plans to make health care and college more affordable to new ideas for addressing the opioid crisis, climate change, national security, and economic growth. It's also likely to be a period when philanthropy is called on to highlight important issues, contribute to and inform the national dialogue, and advocate for the public interest.

In the coming weeks, leaders at private and corporate foundations, NGOs, and nonprofits will have an opportunity to leverage the presidential election cycle to raise awareness of — and drive engagement with — their issues. From the debates and primaries still to come to the party conventions and the election itself, the moment is ripe for action.

For social-sector leaders inclined to act, there are five key elements to effective issues advocacy:

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Digital Accessibility: The Path to Nonprofit Engagement Online

March 02, 2020

Accessibility_lamarWe live in one of the most remarkable eras ever, a time when a tidal wave of technologies and digital information is opening up limitless opportunities and empowering society like never before. But as innovation moves faster, we need to make sure that these advances empower everyone, equally. For nonprofits in particular, a strong commitment to digital accessibility is a perfect opportunity to engage audiences online and reinforce your organization's commitment to equity and inclusion.

Here's an example. While I was commuting by bus to the office one morning, an announcement came over the intercom notifying passengers that another bus was disabled on the road, causing delays into Manhattan. The majority of people on the bus groaned and proceeded to take out their phones and notify their employers of the delay. But that wasn't true for the man sitting next to me; in fact, he didn't react at all. After he noticed the look of concern on the faces of the people around him, he politely tapped me on the arm and said, "I'm deaf. What happened?"

Similar situations happen all the time online. And while digital experiences often do take into account the user experience, too many nonprofits don't pay as much attention as they should to the different capabilities of their of online users.

The good news? The Web is made up of websites, and the more that organizations commit to accessibility online, the more progress we'll make — as a sector and a society. But before we look at what we can do to ensure equity and inclusion online, we need to understand the history of Web accessibility standards (or the lack thereof).

A Brief Legal History of Accessibility

In 1990, America's focus on accessibility was officially ratified by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). By establishing a framework that prohibits discrimination and enforces protections for the disabled, the ADA ultimately helped pave the way for occupational and resource-access equity for all Americans, regardless of their physical or mental limitations.

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5 Questions for...Justin Steele, Director, Google.org Americas

February 24, 2020

Growing up, Justin Steele was "a sensitive, brainy kid" who spent a lot of time thinking about what he could do to improve people's lives. After earning an engineering degree from the University of Virginia, he received a master's in urban social policy and nonprofit management at Harvard and went to work in the nonprofit sector full-time. Since 2014, he has held senior positions with Google.org, where he's taken a lead role in the organization's work on inclusion, education, and economic opportunity.

PND recently spoke with Steele about Google.org, its efforts to develop AI tools for nonprofits, and what it is doing to address homelessness in the Bay Area.

JustinSteelePhilanthropy News Digest: What is Google.org, and how much does it award annually to nonprofits here in the United States and globally?

Justin Steele: Google.org is Google's philanthropic and charitable arm. We support nonprofits that are working to address challenging problems and try to apply scalable data-driven innovations in support of those efforts. What's unique about Google.org is that we were established when the company went public with a commitment of 1 percent of its equity and an ongoing commitment of 1 percent of its net profit for charity. Google.org is the biggest beneficiary of that 1 percent ongoing net-profit commitment, and we currently award more than $300 million in cash grants to nonprofits globally each year, roughly split 50/50 between the U.S. and internationally.

PND: Can any nonprofit apply for a grant?

JS: We are predominantly invite-only in our philanthropy, but we do have a model called the Impact Challenge where we invite nonprofits to participate by sending us their ideas. Sometimes the challenge is topic-based, sometimes it's based on geography.

In the U.S., we are currently running Impact Challenges in a number of geographies. We have a $10 million Impact Challenge open in the Bay Area and $1 million challenges open in Georgia, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Ohio. A panel of local experts who have influence in the states where the challenge is occurring help us narrow down the candidates. The panel chooses the finalists who receive funding, but we also open it up to a public vote. The People's Choice winners get extra funding at the end.

The state-level Impact Challenges change from year to year, although this is the third time we've run a challenge in the Bay Area, which is where we’re headquartered. Last year, we ran challenges in Illinois, Nevada, and Colorado, and we expect to launch new challenges in other states in 2020.

We also opened up the AI Impact Challenge globally in 2018 and 2019 for organizations that are working on interesting applications of artificial intelligence for social good.

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Frequently Asked Questions on Census 2020: Census Identities Still Confound

February 18, 2020

2020-census-logo-sliderEveryone in the United States plays a race or ethnic card at some point, or at least everyone who responds to the decennial census. Despite the scientific consensus that race is an artificial social construct, unmoored from biological reality, is there a box that best describes you?

Whether you plan to respond to the census online, in writing, or by telephone, one question you'll be asked to answer is how, racially speaking, you self-identify. What follows are answers to some frequently asked questions to help guide you through the process.

Q: What are the race and ethnic categories on the census form?

A: Your racial choices are: (1) White; (2) Black or African American; (3) American Indian or Alaskan Native; (4) Asian — with numerous boxes as subsets; and (5) Some other race. The questionnaire also asks separately if the respondent is "of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin," but instructs that "for this census, Hispanic origins are not races."

Q: What if I'm not White or Black? I'm Egyptian and my neighbor is from Iran. What are our options and who determines the categories?

A: You and your neighbor fall into what is called the MENA classification: Middle Eastern and North African. There was a proposal to add MENA to the 2020 form, but the Office of Management and Budget, which makes the assigned identity group determinations about the census, decided to keep the same basic categories that were on the 2010 census form.

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Weekend Link Roundup (February 15-16, 2020)

February 16, 2020

Diamond princessOur weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Fundraising

Everything in the world of fundraising is based on relationships, or should be, right? Well, sort of, writes Vu Le on his Nonprofit AF blog. "[O]ur reliance on relationships is...problematic, as it often creates and enhances inequity and thus undermines many of the problems we as a sector are trying to address" — for example, by further marginalizing people and communities that don't have the same access to relationships as better-resourced communities and nonprofits, or by reinforcing our natural bias toward people who look, think, and act like us. 

Giving

On the Alliance magazine blog, Alisha Miranda, chief executive of I.G. advisors, considers the pros and cons of curated approaches to giving.

Grantmaking

PEAK Grantmaking has released a set of resources designed to help grantmakers operationalize the second of its five Principles for Peak Grantmaking: Narrow the Power Gap. Within that frame, the organization has three very specific recommendations: build strong and trusting relationships with your grantees; rightsize the grantmaking process and implement flexible practices that reduce the burden on your grantees; and structure grant awards to be more responsive to grantee needs. Elly Davis, a program manager at the organization, shares more here.

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50 Years of Southern Philanthropy

February 11, 2020

In November, I had the pleasure of speaking at SECF50, the 50th annual meeting of the Southeastern Council of Foundations. Using Candid data, I compared philanthropy in the South fifty years ago to philanthropy in the region today. Here are some of the key points I shared with the SECF50 audience.

Philanthropy has grown tenfold

Fig1.1_secf-growth

To put these findings together, I had the distinct, old-fashioned pleasure of turning to one of our earliest editions of the Foundation Directory (published in 1971), an actual book, to research the state of institutional philanthropy in the South at the time of SECF's founding. Information was a lot sketchier back then and we had to collect everything by hand, so our totals in 1969 are probably not as accurate as those we have today. Still, I believe it's safe to say philanthropy in the South has grown tenfold after inflation.

Back in 1969, only three states in the 11-state Southeastern region had more than 75 foundations of any size (Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida), and no state had more than 107. Now, there are more than 18,000 foundations across the region, and more than half are located in just two states: Florida (6,452) and North Carolina (3,139).

Asset distribution has changed

Fig.1.2_secf-assets-by-state-800w

In 1969, two-thirds of the region’s philanthropic assets were concentrated in Georgia and North Carolina (40 percent and 26 percent, respectively). Since then, assets have grown tremendously in Arkansas, Florida, and Virginia, changing the picture quite a bit. Arkansas held 1 percent of the region's assets in 1969; it now holds 7 percent. Florida went from 8 percent to 29 percent. And Virginia increased from 6 percent to 10 percent.

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Weekend Link Roundup (February 8-9, 2020)

February 09, 2020

1203880819.jpg.0Our weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Economy

The stock market is up and inflation is muted. It's the story of the last ten years. Or is it? In The Atlantic, Annie Lowrey reports on the affordability crisis breaking the back of America's middle class.

Global Health

The novel coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, dominated headlines for much of the last week, leading to a spate of all-too-predictable scare stories and conspiracy theories. For a solid statistical breakdown of what is actually happening, in Wuhan and the twenty-seven other countries and territories in which the virus has been detected, check out this useful site created by the folks at World-o-Meter.

Grantwriting

On the Candid blog, Susan Schaefer, founding partner of Resource Partners LLC, looks at three of the core skills needed by a grant writing professional in 2020.

Health

More than fifty years after the civil rights movement changed the way Americans think about race, there is still much to do to reduce discrimination and increase health equity. On the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Culture of Health blog, Dwayne Proctor, a senior advisor to the foundation's president, reflects on the role of stories in the search for solutions.

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Tips to Help Make Your Organization More Inclusive

February 07, 2020

Diversity_1Recruiting and retaining employees is a top priority and challenge for most organizations. But many fail to take even the basic steps needed to attract and retain candidates with diverse backgrounds and experiences. This is unfortunate, for many reasons, but especially because the benefits of diversity in the workplace are significant and numerous, and because research shows that the workforce of the future will be diverse.

Creating an inclusive organizational culture requires commitment. The goal should be to ensure that everyone in an organization feels welcome, valued, and supported. This is how you strengthen employee engagement and retention, and how you create a stage for teams that perform at a high level. On the flip side, organizational cultures that are not inclusive are more likely to experience negative outcomes in terms of employee satisfaction and retention, resulting in higher turnover rates and lower organizational performance.

Below are a few things you and your colleagues can do to create a more inclusive organizational culture. Note, however, that the suggestions are only a starting point. Building a truly inclusive culture requires deep commitment to change at every level of the organization as well as a willingness to model and sustain that change through shared values, the actions of leadership, and effective accountability mechanisms.

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5 Questions for...Bernie Michael, President and CEO, Center for Jewish History

February 05, 2020

"Never forget."

For Holocaust survivors who gathered on Monday in Auschwitz-Birkenau, Poland, to mark the seventy-fifth anniversary of the liberation of the infamous Nazi concentration and death camp, the horrors of World War II will never be forgotten. But as the number of Holocaust survivors dwindles — at Monday’s ceremony, there were two hundred survivors in attendance, compared to the fifteen hundred who attended ceremonies marking the sixtieth anniversary of the camp’s liberation in 1945 — and with anti-Semitism and attacks on Jews once again capturing headlines in Europe and the United States, the two-word admonition has assumed fresh meaning and significance.

At the Center for Jewish History in New York City, the past, five thousand years of the Jewish past, is very much alive. Established twenty years ago and celebrating its twentieth anniversary in 2020, the center is a place where scholars, researchers, graduate fellows, high school students, and others gather to do research, attend seminars and symposia, and celebrate the remarkable achievements of the Jewish people.

PND recently spoke with Bernie Michael, the center’s president and CEO, about the organization’s mission and collections, history as story, and the reasons why he remains an optimist.

Headshot_bernie_michaelPhilanthropy News Digest: Tell us about the Center for Jewish History. When was it established, what is its mission, and what does it do to advance that mission?

Bernie Michael: The Center for Jewish History is located in Manhattan on 16th Street off of Fifth Avenue. We are home to five partner organizations — the American Jewish Historical Society, which was established in the 1890s to foster an appreciation of American Jewish heritage and which has a huge archive of materials relating to American Jewish history; the American Sephardi Federation, which preserves and promotes the history, traditions, and culture of Jews from Sephardic lands; the Leo Baeck Institute, a research library and archive focused on the history of German-speaking Jews; the Yeshiva University Museum, which, unlike our other partners, is more of a traditional museum in the sense that it has artworks and three-dimensional objects; and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, which was established in the 1920s and focuses on the history and culture of Eastern European Jews and Yiddish-speaking people.

The center brings all these organizations together under one roof, and we also have our own archives and mount our own exhibitions and offer our own programming. It's a place, really, for people to learn about the history of the Jewish people and all of its many different aspects.

PND: For a lot of Americans, history is little more than a dry recitation of dates, names, and long-forgotten events. What are they missing?

BM: History starts with dates and names and facts, and making sure all that is verified and correct is important. But what's really important about history is that it tells a story, and it's the job of historians to bring those stories to life. The ideas that make history important are almost always animated by individuals, and the individuals that history remembers usually are embedded in a fascinating story. Historians take those stories and connect them to the present. That's what we do here at the center. How do all those stories in our archives reflect who we are today, and what can they tell us about where we might be headed?

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Addressing Student Debt Through Philanthropy

February 04, 2020

GettyImages-1042539442_student_debt_piggybankIn an age of mega-donors and flashy facilities, higher education philanthropy increasingly is about bigness. Philanthropists and foundations scramble to put their names on buildings, endow chairs in popular departments, and fund the next scientific breakthrough.

Investing in higher education often is a great use of philanthropic dollars. But high-dollar gifts aren't the only big figures in higher education. These days, too many college students are burdened by the millstone of unconscionable debt. Indeed, as we begin a new decade, cumulative student debt in the United States has reached $1.6 trillion.

And debt is not the only financial challenge college students face. Once you factor in the supplementary or "incidental" costs of attending college, today's college students face a kind of death by a thousand cuts. Textbook costs are up 87 percent since 2006 — more than any other college-related expense. The cost of essentials like laptops, transportation, and living expenses often outstrip students' ability to meet them. Students are encouraged to prepare for the real world after graduation by taking low- or unpaid summer internships — another expense many simply cannot afford. As higher ed technology and course software changes, the costs add up.

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Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (January 2020)

February 02, 2020

Novel-coronavirusA verdict in the impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump, the growing threat of a global coronavirus pandemic, and the much-anticipated results of the Iowa caucuses — there'll be no shortage of news or headlines to track in the week ahead. But before we turn the page on January 2020 (already?), we thought we'd take a last look at the most popular posts on the blog in the month just passed. Be safe out there.

Interested in contributing to PND or PhilanTopic? We want to hear from you! Drop us a note at Mitch.Naufts@Candid.org.

When Numbers Fall Short: The Challenge of Measuring Diversity in a Global Context

January 31, 2020

Hands-Tree-Diversity-editAt the C&A Foundation we believe many of the challenges we seek to tackle are rooted in social exclusion. We are on a journey to deepen our approach to gender justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion. As part of our own effort to learn, we recently undertook a demographic survey of our sixty-plus employees worldwide to find out how "diverse" we are as an organization and what it might imply for our efforts to create an equitable organization. It was a first for us and we learned far more than the numbers alone reveal.

The process itself was both eye-opening and humbling. It forced us to reflect on what really matters for our global organization when it comes to diversity and it underscored some of our own implicit biases.

We worked with U.S.-based consultants to prepare the survey — which covered age, sexual orientation, gender identity, nationality, disability, race, religion, and educational status. Unknowingly, the very act of selecting these categories imposed a U.S.-centric world view, particularly with respect to our understanding of race and ethnicity.

For example, the category "Latinx" was used in the initial survey; this category is very relevant in the U.S., but reductive in Latin America, confusing in Europe, and irrelevant in South Asia. An important category for Europe — Roma — was not available for selection.

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Looking Back on the Quest to Eliminate Trachoma

January 30, 2020

Recovered_trachoma_patient_Martin_Kharumwa_orbis_internationalThere are some patients you never forget — not because they are famous, but because of the story they have to tell and the everlasting impression it makes on you. 

In 1997, I was traveling through Africa as a young medical student and volunteer, teaching eye care staff at local clinics how to maintain microsurgical instruments and make some standard medical supplies themselves. I ended up joining the outreach project of an eye clinic I was visiting in the Jimma Zone of Ethiopia. One day while I was at the clinic, an older woman walked in. She explained to us that she had been blind for several years, but now, every morning when she woke up, she had to put margarine under her eyelid because, otherwise, she experienced unbearable pain every time she blinked.

I recall my brain working overtime in that moment but drawing a complete blank. This wasn't a common complaint I had experienced in clinics or something I had learned from my professors — it was something else. We examined the woman's eye. Her eyelid had completely turned in on itself, and her eyelashes were scratching her eyeball. The resulting damage and infections of the cornea and eyeball had caused her to go completely blind, but the agonizing pain caused by the scratching eyelashes remained. 

At that point, as a medical student trained in Europe, I was still clueless about what could have caused an infection with damage so painful that the patient had to resort to margarine for relief. The ophthalmologist running the clinic said nonchalantly, "Trichiasis due to trachoma. This is the end stage — nothing we can do anymore."

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Nostalgia and Social Change

January 29, 2020

Time-machineRecently, I put my finger on a social sector trend that's been lodged in my brain but that I was having a hard time articulating: call it nostalgia.

Let me give you an example.

In many of the conversations I've had over the last year or two, people usually express a clear interest in changing how we engage with social issues and causes. They want to see Americans give more, volunteer more, vote more, or otherwise be more civically engaged, and they have certain expectations about what that looks like and how it should happen.

In many of these conversations, the person I’m speaking with often "benchmarks" the change they'd like to see, and that benchmark often references the past, as in "Derrick, Americans used to give more," or "Derrick, Americans used to know more about the way our political system works." They often cite statistics to back up their point and then will say, in so many words, "We need to return to…" and will launch into a narrative about a time when "we were less polarized as a country," when "people were more willing to help a stranger in need," when there was no "us and them, only we."

Now, it's not my job to argue with people and point out where they might need to rethink some of their ways of looking at things, and I'm not going to do that here.

Instead, I'll share what I often say at this point in those conversations:

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Weekend Link Roundup (January 25-26, 2020)

January 26, 2020

Trump_Impeachment___Roberts.7Our weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Fundraising

It's the end of the world as we know it...and most of us feel fine. "Starting this year," writes Jeff Brooks on his Future Fundraising Now blog, "there will be no new Boomers entering the most-likely-to-donate stage of life. Now, they can only leave that stage...the hard way."

Giving

Did you get a few fundraising solicitations over the holidays? Looking for a way to cut back on all the mail/email you receive from charities at the end of the year? Charity Navigator's Kevin Scally and Ashley Post share a few tips designed to help you regain control of your mailboxes.

Health

Writing on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Culture of Health blog, Dolores Acevedo-Garcia, professor and director of the Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University, looks at how the latest iteration of the Child Opportunity Index, which she and her team at Brandeis first developed in 2014, can be used to help researchers and policy makers understand how children are growing up today in any neighborhood in the United States.

On the Commonwealth Fund's To the Point blog, Los Angeles Times reporter Noam Levey movingly describes the "lightbulb" moment that happens for people who experience a strong, patient-centered health system.

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Losing the Red Cross Would Be the Real Disaster

January 23, 2020

Red cross(Ed note: this post originally was published on PhilanTopic in November 2014 and is being republished as criticism of the Australian Red Cross for allegedly holding back donations for bushfire victims mounts.) 

As a disaster researcher and scholar of nonprofit management, I've followed the (well publicized) travails and (hardly publicized) successes of the American Red Cross over the years.

I've met its national staff at research conferences and local staff at state and county emergency management meetings, where I've served on the board of my local Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD). I participated with hundreds of other invited experts in the governance audit that resulted in the "American National Red Cross Governance Modernization Act of 2007." I’ve monitored the commentary after a ProPublica/National Public Radio exposé of the Red Cross appeared last week. And based on my observations, I have developed a healthy respect and sympathy for the Red Cross.

Bet you didn't see that coming.

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Marketing Tech for Nonprofits: A Refresher Course for 2020

January 20, 2020

SocialNetworkIconsTeaserAs we start a new year, marketing has never been more important for nonprofits. And when it comes to growing and expanding your audience, your nonprofit needs the right digital marketing strategy if wants to make progress.

Unfortunately, too many nonprofits struggle to maximize the impact of their marketing efforts c and often it's because those efforts are an incoherent, unfocused mess. An effective digital marketing strategy should accomplish some, if not all, of the following:

  • reach new audiences that support your mission
  • convert more website visitors and/or supporters into donors
  • convince your existing donors to continue their support
  • support other goals such as boosting registrations, securing recurring donations, and obtaining signatures for petitions

Perhaps most importantly, your digital marketing strategy should aim to "make your donor an action hero" (as fundraising consultant Claire Axelrad puts it) by centering his or her experience in your organization's broader work. Donor- and constituent-centric messaging can be extremely effective in motivating support and keeping audiences engaged with your mission. And the best way to ensure it does is to have a clear game plan at the start of the year and/or before each campaign is launched.

Ready to get started? Let's begin with a quick review of some of the marketing tools at your disposal and then look at hot they fit together.

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